What experiences and environments nourish you? The author of Psalm 23 writes, "God leads me beside still waters; God restores my soul." Where and when does your soul feel restored?
The Psalm was originally written in the Hebrew language. The Hebrew word for "restore" is shuwb (pronounced shu-va). It means "to return," "to give back," and "to recover."
These translations of shuwb bring to mind a compassionate Creator who in "restoring our souls" helps us excavate the parts of ourselves that sometimes get squished and lost.
In the first few verses of Psalm 23, the psalmist affirms that God provides for our needs (23:1), empowers us to stretch out in peaceful places (23:2), walks with us beside the calm water (23:2) and gives our spirits a sense of restoration and recovery (23:3).
As we imagine this serene scene together, what environments of spiritual rejuvenation come to mind for you? Where do you feel a sense of God’s nearness? What activities recharge your deepest, truest self?
A few years back I received a copy of the book "List Your Self: Listmaking as the Way to Self-Discovery" by Ilene Segalove and Paul Bob Velick. It a resource full of thoughtful prompts with space within each page for notetaking. One of the prompts is, "List what you do to restore your soul."
Try it. Perhaps you could even write your list in the margins of this newspaper or on some scrap paper that you keep in the junk drawer. If you don’t feel like writing, maybe you could draw your responses or make a collage with photos and words. Brainstorm for a few minutes. What do you do to restore your soul?
For some, the list will come easily and you’ll be able to easily identify what brings you peace. For others, it may take a bit of time to get started. Perhaps you haven’t really thought about it before. That’s okay! Whether or not you’ve ever pondered what restores your soul before, it’s likely you’ll be able to come up with something and probably quite a few somethings!
The purpose of this exercise is to tap into the activities and places that make space for the recharging of your spirit. There are many aspects of life that tend to drain energy and leave us feeling exhausted, uncertain and emotionally deflated. Instead of spending even more time in those states of being, we can train our hearts and minds to tune into the ongoing ways God provides opportunities for renewal.
Soul recharging isn’t something we have to do alone; God accompanies us along the way.
It is during the summer season that many of us carve out intentional space for vacation, rest and time set apart from the usual routines of life. Sometimes these opportunities come in larger chunks of time, but a week or two of out-of-state vacation isn’t required! God can restore our sense of well-being in shorter periods of time, too...even a 5-minute walk around the block can be extremely nourishing.
Take time to make your list, and then open your mind to where and when the Spirit may be inviting you to recover and recharge. May the months ahead be full of sweet spiritual restoration.